Posted by Amanda Chapel
Ya, know, there was a time when I dreamt of having his baby. What a guy... smart... young... charismatic. And then I woke up; rudely, I might add.
This is a sad tale. It’s about Joe Jaffe, a guy I once held in the highest regard, now sadly fallen from grace. Not long ago, the paragon of marketing virtue, he’s now the stuff of Strumpette. Ironically, this is the kinda stuff that makes even us blush.
Let’s start with the promise. I remember first having heard of Joe with his book "Life after the 30-second spot." He uniquely captured Web 2.0's potential for marketing. Mary Whaley from the American Library Association said: “Jaffe, marketing guru and former advertising executive, issues a clarion call to abandon the old rules of marketing and wake up to new opportunities. He cites the lack of imagination in big agencies and then offers a road map for change. The author presents 10 bold alternatives to traditional advertising, which include the Internet, video games and word-of-mouth advertising in which communities have the power to build and invigorate brands. His book offers thought-provoking insight and advice on how to effectively serve the evolving 'customer.' Although not all readers will agree with Jaffe, they ignore him at their peril.”
That was real!
Soon there after (last November actually) I had the pleasure of hearing the keynote he gave to the International Marketing Congress in Brussels. Excuse me, this wasn’t the same Rubel-Scoble-Cluetrain crap. This was genuine. This guy was authentic. Surely he was channeling some marketing god. I directly dropped what I was doing, sold all my stuff, bought a bus pass and like I said, made ready to have his baby. Well, okay, maybe I just set out to emulate a few key memes and hold out his virtue as the standard for PR 2.0. Honestly, all of us here were excited for him and his people when he launched the "new marketing" firm, Crayon.
But then... somethin’ musta happened. I mean, was he in a car accident? Yissh. Not only did he start to sound full of shit, but he wasn’t even subtle about his ulterior motives. He started overtly hustling for cameras, computers, phones and such. And the message was very clear. Bold even! Jaffe could be bought... AND FOR CHEAP! Jaffe became the poster boy for self-aggrandizement through blogging and podcasting.
I personally lost all respect when during heated arguments about the sins of blogola and his in particular, he grabbed his 5-year-old son Aaron and used him to deflect the barbs of naysayers. In Joe's blog post 5/27 he said: “Aaron loves nature. I just wanted to thank Nikon for selecting me to participate in their blogger outreach program. With photographs like this, I now have loyalty to a brand which quite frankly I had never considered before. This kind of influencer outreach represents a new path forward and certainly a viable and cost effective alternative to traditional advertising. Take a look at this photo and then take a good look at yourselves. Smile, enjoy life and enjoy your family and friends. Perhaps you'll even want to purchase a Nikon D80 camera to capture moments like these :)”
DAMN. That's a character thing friends. HE USED HIS KID FOR COVER TO RATIONALIZE A SHAMEFUL BRIBE. How awful.
Anyway, word on the street is that his gossamer wings have now all but melted. The firm he started not 10 months ago is reportedly “effectively out of business.” From a staff of eleven, they're apparently down to five. Last June they lost their PR department Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz. Excuse me but that should have been a tell. When ya see the old whores leave town you know the well has gone dry. And more recently Crayon lost a VP of New Marketing (CC Chapman), its Chief Creative Officer (Steve Coulson) and even its CEO (Gary Cohen) for Christ's sake.
We asked Joe about the state of the union. He obfuscated, spun and then refused to answer altogether. So much for openness and transparency. We were otherwise refered to the statement he made a few days ago, Joe said: "Crayon is relaunching itself as a conversational marketing company, specializing in helping its clients engage advertising-weary consumers through the power of community, dialogue and partnership. To achieve this objective, crayon will focus its efforts on transforming prolific thought leadership and vision into cutting-edge, differentiated and prescriptive strategic solutions."
That's a mouthful. Gotta tell ya, it triggered my gag response. He continued: “This will be coupled with a rapidly expanding periphery of best in class freelancers, consultants, creative partners and mercenaries. This vision – to wrap our strategic core with an extensive network of partners that can help us activate our ideas and realize our vision with in-market programs – has always been part of the crayon plan. With these recent changes, we are putting that plan into overdrive." That made me puke.
Hello?! So how’s that any different then what you were Joe? Sounds like you plan to run a pseudo business on the periphery wrapped in genuine business gobblygook.
Funny, not a week ago ABC News did a puff piece on Crayon and “Virtual Workplaces.” The piece starts, “Imagine no corporate headquarters, no commute, and no office in the physical world.” I imagine no clients and no future, too.
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You lay on crayon too harshly. I have been moved by this word-of-mouth conversational viralness and will commit myself to move the needle to the next level of transposing messages to the dizenwizel merceneries on the bleeding edge of transformative messaging. In fact, unburdened by staff and clients we are able to jet propulse this plan in triple warp speed. Joe J. is still spokesperson for Nikon D80, there's that.
Smack down from the Stumpette gang...Ouch! Gotta love it! Again proving that all that is old is new again and then right back to being old. We love the next big thing until we find out that it's the same old thing wrapped in shiney new Crayola box.
Sender - Channel - Message - Receiver, same as it ever was.
Love the dizenwizel reference Mark. Proving once again that we are all at our best without the burden of clients and campaigns tying us down. The freedom to leverage the English language for our own sadistic pleasure. No joy could be greater for a true PR professional. Like a guilt free videotaping of the Jets defensive coordinator.
From the Beach Chair in Sarasota
Matt Gentile (300 Days of Sunshine - FloridaMoves.com)
Amanda, my dear Amanda, c'mon. You're kidding right?
Before Crayon, he performed those silly seminar-in-a-box routines promising he'd save creativity whilst everything about the event was for sale. Some of us, back then, realized he was little more than a Godin-a-bee without the CV and navigated away.
I think too many of you PR folks fall face-down-and-butts-up for anyone that actually takes their media training seriously...what disappoints is that I knew you said you were easy, I just didn't think you could be bought so cheaply!
Did you see that Jaffe is at it again? This time shill-ing for a home makeover in return for a month's sponsorship of his unlistenable podcast. Sad. Take a look at his blog ... actually don't.